Leave No Stone Unturned, Leave Your Fears Behind
Perhaps it was simply the beast in him that reveled in the pressure changes that signaled the beginnings of a storm, the way that the air would grow almost heavy and damp as the moisture began to build up in the atmosphere. He would watch with golden-hazel eyes turned upwards to the endless expanse of overcast sky, pewter cumulus laden with rain that would soon be unleashed unto the earth that craved it, and it was when the thunder would roll, roaring across the heavens in much the same way that his pride would for that sense of unity and strength on those days where they did not have to worry about being found. The lightning would illuminate those dark skies, having the lion's golden fur standing on end in some unbidden excitement as his heart would begin to race within his broad and powerful chest. He would feel claws unsheathe, grasping at the earth beneath his paws, ears pressed forward amidst the thickness of his mane, every defined muscle within his massive five-hundred and fifty-pound frame taut with the want to race the storm, to challenge its strength, and watch as it unfurled over the world. Since he had been young, the were had always been enraptured by the natural phenomenon, even despite when there was an equal part of him that would always ache when they turned deadly and destructing, demolishing homes and tearing apart families. It was, as with many things in this life, a delicate and near perfectly set balance between the love and despair for the were as he both reveled in the rush that overtook him when the winds would beckon him and the thunder would shake the sky and mourned for the ruins left behind when mother nature showed no mercy to the livings things so undeniably at her mercy. But, even in the wake of the worst storms and the devastation they would leave behind, the man has seen incredible things borne from those broken shingles and toppled homes. He has seen families become stronger for it in the end, watched as neighbors who once never knew one another or so much as spared a pacing glance to the other unite and work to rebuild what had been broken. And each time, the man was only ever moved further, his faith in the good that remained in a world going dark ever holding fast against the odds as the world slowly seemed to forget what it meant to be kind to those they shared it with, to always give rather than always take.
Unlike Roman, his younger sister Dea had been afraid on storms. He remembers how she would cower beneath the belly of their mother or perhaps Tristan, the small girl shaking like a leaf rattled from her place upon the branch she'd been anchored to only moments ago. As any good brother, he would do his best to comfort his sister, laying there beside her so that she could hide her face in his shoulder when Tristian Nicolette, or their parents were not there to offer that steady assurance she felt so desperate for. She would cling tightly to his shirt as they sat there on the couch in the small living room of whatever current apartment or duplex the pride would make temporary homage in. Countless times, her tears had soaked through his shirts and dampened his skin as he would wrap her up in his arms. Dea and Drake, they were only three years younger than Roman, but still the girl had always seemed so small to the were."Why is thunder so scary, Ro?", Dea had asked young Roman one night when their mother and father were both working those part-time jobs, their other siblings sound asleep and unaffected by the storm that howled outside, the rain pelting that small home fiercely and causing the young girl to shrink ever closer into her big brother she knew would always protect her no matter what."It doesn't mean to be scary, sister. It's just nature playing music, and the thunder is its drums. That's all", he would say softly to her as she cuddles into his side. She would blink up at him with those teary milk chocolate eyes then, running a hand over her wet cheek."Can't nature play music without drums?", she'd then asked in turn, her fear eased and yet still very much there in her small soprano voice as she would dare to take a glance outside the window to see another blinding streak of lighting brighten the sky as it reached for the earth below, another rumbling roar erupting from the impact and air as it compressed and explodes."Sometimes, but maybe nature just wants to have fun and gets excited. Like you do", he would say then, reaching down to tickle her sides. And how she would giggle, her fears gone just like that as, quickly falling asleep once more against the warmth of her brother who would fall asleep there beside her with his arms hugging her close. Dea never did grow fonder of the storms as she grew older and endured many more after that night, but it had been Roman who eased her fear, comforted her during those nights when the skies would be alive with thunder, lighting, wind, and rain. They would stay up all night, talking and laughing, maybe watching movies on the lowest volume as not to wake the rest of the family. In the end, it would almost always end up with her falling asleep against him, her anxieties forgotten. It was a bond deeper than the ocean, and he misses it more than words could ever say.
It was always when these memories would find the man that he ached deeply for what he'd chosen to leave behind. He had done it to keep them safe, to know that he would never have to worry about putting them in danger when the beast in him craved to race the storm and challenge the thunder. Never would he allow for his sometimes-reckless tendencies to be the reason his family was hurt. He was entirely aware of the price that such a decision would demand, and there were rare moments in time where the were would wonder if he'd done the right thing or if maybe he'd made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. These moments were fleeting though, and it was only after making himself realize why he'd made the weighted decision in the first place for him to remember that it was because of his absence that Tristan and his mate were having a family of their own. It was him being gone that was helping Trinity realize the fierce storm in her own heart, allowing Dea to discover her own courage to face what once frightened her as a child. It was Roman being gone that encouraged Drake to step into a more serious role within the pride, trying to fill that vacancy the were left behind as he bid them all farewell. There was no denying that they were going to be fine without him, and if the fates ever saw fit, there might come a day where he might see them again, if only for just a day or two. But, his path likely did not and would never lead him back the way he'd come. He still had yet to find himself, to discover where it was in this grand scheme of life he might fit â€" if anywhere. Did the lion dream of seeing his family again? Of course. But they were just that, dreams, and he strove tirelessly to content himself with those rare phone calls that his family would give him whenever they were in a place where they could have access to a phone. The conversations were nowhere near as long as he would ever want them to be, but none the less he has learned throughout the years to be thankful for their voices when he was given the chance to hear them. It was but one lesson of many that the man has come to learn, and it was this very lesson that only further deepened his appreciation for the small blessings he was fortunate enough to experience. After all, there were far worse off souls than Roman, this he knew for certain. There were children without parents, homeless beings always wondering where their next meal might come from or when they might find it. He knew that his family was well, even when they could not reach him for months. He was strong enough to work for money to put a temporary roof over his head and he was capable of hunting when his stomach ached for nourishment. While his life was modest, often bordering between homelessness and humbleness, there were still others out there much less fortunate than himself.
When he sees the small fae child, curled up there behind the dumpster with fear wafting from her delicate frame in waves, Roman's heart broke. Most children would run into the arms of their parents or even siblings when they were afraid, but she is alone. He knows what it feels like, being alone. Golden-hazel eyes are soft and gentle as they look down to the child who still, even as the were kneels there before her, is frail. The clothes that she wears are a size or two too large for the girl, and the man cannot help but feel more certain with each passing moment that she is here because she does not have a family to run home to. She meets his gaze with those violet eyes and they are so innocent as they glance up at him to ask in her petite voice if he was sure the officer had gone."Yes, I'm sure", he says warmly to the girl as she shifts to peek around the corner of the dumpster. She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, glancing back to Roman, a smile dancing across her young face that has his own gentle smile deepening when she asks if he promised not to hurt her. She was so young... and to think that she was alone in this world..."Cross my heart", the man says softly as he takes the tip of his finger to drag it across the place where his heart beat within his chest, just he had with his pride when they'd ask him such things. He watches the fae girl as she moves from her hiding place and stands there beside him, the were remaining as he'd been when he kneeled there before her, the child's gaze steady. She gives the were her name then, accompanied by a gentle voice that Roman can feel warming him to the core. She was so trusting for someone who was alone, but then again, she was a child..."It's nice to meet you, Miss Maeve", Roman replies kindly, extending his hand to the girl in that familiar gesture of greeting. However, a bird suddenly takes to the sky, wings beating against the silence of the alleyway, and she jumps closer to him, the man opening his arm to catch her should she stumble backwards, that gentleness in the man so compelled to keep the precious creature he'd found safe. When the bird is gone, she turns back to face him, violet meeting golden-hazel, and she places a small hand on his broad shoulder to lean in and whisper softly into his ear. Her voice was so pure, so sweet... What he does not expect was for her to throw those small arms around his neck and bury her face into his shoulder. In that moment, he can feel his heart melt utterly and completely for the girl, then bringing his own strong arms to wrap themselves gently, protectively, around the child."You are very welcome", he murmurs tenderly to her, the lion hardly able to keep that fierce and innate desire to shelter her from arising within himself.
She reminds him of his baby sister. Though Trinity had been born with a fire unlike anything he had ever seen before, there had always been a purity in the young lioness from the day that she'd entered this world. She trusted the world around her even when she had grown old enough and wise enough to both see and know that it it was far from kind, she loved her pride with each and every breath, and she fought just as fiercely for her family as she loved. She may not be as little as the man remembers so fondly, and yet the woman who was surely making a world all her own would always and forever be Roman's shadow, his baby sister that he would give the world to if such a thing were possible. He had been especially close to her, the two siblings nearly inseperable as they would race and spar, laughing together until their sides would ache and it was almost too painful to breath. It had perhaps been Roman who had been the most proud when she'd taken her first kill, swiftly and mercifully dispatching the buck only to give thanks for the nourishment that its body would give to not only her, but those that she hunted for. How his heart had swelled with so much love in those moments when she had shown the world that she was stronger than any would ever give her credit for at a mere glance. And, how his heart had broken when she'd cried, pleaded for him to stay and never leave the pride only to hold him so tightly that his own tears had fallen. Saying goodbye to his mother and father had been difficult, and it had also been the same when he shared one last embrace with Nicolette, Tristian, Dea, and Drake... yet, no hug had been more able to tear apart his heart like that final embrace he'd shared with Trinity. As Maeve hugs herself to him and he holds her in turn, the lion feels that same love come rushing forth. The love he had for his family, for his baby sister, and it washes over him like cool water on a summer afternoon. It had been so long since he'd felt this much, felt this. Two beings without a home, and the lion finds himself drawn to her as if he'd found his family again. It seemed like an odd sentiment perhaps, but it is what she gives him all the same. He can feel her grasp on him slacken and from having been there for Dea, Drake, and Trinity when they had once been small, the were knows this feeling even though he hadn't been too much older than the twins. He had always been keen on the well-being of others, sensitive to the changes in each and every one of his siblings."You must be tired. Come on, let's get you home", he says softly, a tender smile etching itself into his chiseled features as he shifts his arms around Maeve and picks the small fae child easily within their careful embrace."Can you tell me where you are staying, Maeve?", he asks gently as he carries her in his arms and departs from the alleyway. Wrapping his arms around her, mindful of the close proximity at which the tide of strangers walked, he decides to take the less crowded streets, only a small handful of people giving a sideways glance at the lion as he moves through the city with that precious child in his arms, safe and sound